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A Cretaceous bug with exaggerated antennae might be a double-edged sword in evolution

By Bao-Jie Du, Rui Chen, Wen-Tao Tao, Hong-Liang Shi, Wen-Jun Bu, Ye Liu, Shuai Ma, Meng-Ya Ni, Fan-Li Kong, Jin-Hua Xiao, Da-Wei Huang

Posted 12 Feb 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.02.11.942920 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2020.101932)

In the competition for the opposite sex, sexual selection can favor production of exaggerated features, but the high cost of such features in terms of energy consumption and enemy avoidance makes them go to extinction under the influence of natural selection. However, to our knowledge, fossil on exaggerated traits that are conducive to attracting opposite sex are very rare. Here, we report the exaggerated leaf-like expansion antennae of Magnusantenna wuae Du & Chen gen. et sp. nov. (Hemiptera: Coreidae) with more abundant sensory hairs from a new nymph coreid preserved in a Cretaceous Myanmar amber. The antennae are the largest among species of coreid and one of the largest known insects. Such bizarre antennae indicate that sensitive and delicate sensory system and magnificent appearance in Hemiptera have been already well established in mid-Cretaceous. Our findings provide evidence for Darwin’s view that sensory organs play an important role in sexual selection. This nymph with the leaf-like antennae may also represents a new camouflage pattern for defense. However, the oversized antennae are costly to develop and maintain, increasing the risks from predators. Such unparalleled expanded antennae might be the key factor for the evolutionary fate of this Myanmar amber coreid species. Significance Darwin proposed the importance of sensory organs in sexual selection, but it was greatly ignored compared with weapons and other common ornaments. Here, we report a new type of insect antennae, the multiple segments leaf-like expansion antennae from a new nymph coreid preserved in a Cretaceous Myanmar amber. Our finding provides evidence for the prominent role of sensory organs in sexual selection and thus supports Darwin’s viewpoint. This discovery demonstrates that high-efficiency antennae were present in Coreidae 99 million years ago. In addition, the exaggerated antennae might represent a new evolutionary innovation for defensive behavior. This is a case in which the high benefits and high costs brought by the exaggerated antennae jointly determine the direction of species evolution. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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